Notre Dame men's hoops home opener canceled

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

It was bound to happen — and maybe happen a lot this college basketball season, when even if there was a game scheduled, chances were it might not be played.

The Notre Dame men’s basketball team has come to realize this all too well.

Barely a week into the regular season, the Irish have had a second game wiped from their schedule because of coronavirus issues.

Wednesday’s home opener against Western Michigan will not be played because, according to a Notre Dame press release “the unavailability of some players on the WMU roster.” Western Michigan opened last week at Butler, but had Saturday’s game at Division III Trine canceled because of coronavirus issues. Butler also has had three games “postponed” because of COVID-19 issues.

Thirty minutes after the cancellation was announced by Notre Dame, a preview of the game remained on the Western Michigan men’s basketball home page on its web site.

It’s unclear (and maybe unlikely) if the game can be rescheduled. Notre Dame doesn’t have a workable game date on its schedule until the break between the Dec. 22 game at Syracuse and the Dec. 30 home game with No. 15 Virginia.

Notre Dame returns to action Saturday at home against Purdue Fort Wayne. Tip-off is 11 a.m. That game was added Monday to Notre Dame’s schedule after positive coronavirus tests negated a Friday evening visit from No. 13 Tennessee. Fort Wayne had Thursday’s game against Alcorn State canceled.

Western Michigan was the only non-power five conference home game for Notre Dame.

“It’s sitting on all of our shoulders,” Irish coach Mike Brey said last week of the uncertainty of a season because of the pandemic. “When you really try to wrap your arms around that, you can find a lot to worry about. I think, as coaches, we do.

“I have tried to, with our guys, just deal with the day to day. That we’re in practicing and doing things together is so healthy.”

But only for so long. Brey knows that. His players likely do too.

“We,” Brey said, “do need to play other people.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, there were at least 34 Division I teams dealing with some sort of coronavirus positive test/roster/game issues. There were six Division I games canceled.

Notre Dame players underwent four separate days of testing last week heading into Saturday’s opener at No. 8 Michigan State.

Rockets sign Grant

Former Irish point guard Jerian Grant, the program’s last first round NBA draft pick in 2015, has signed as a free agent with the Houston Rockets.

A first team All-American his senior season, the 28-year-old Grant spent part of last season with the Washington Wizards. He’s also played for the Bulls, Knicks and Magic. In 273 career NBA games, Grant is averaging 6.1 points, 2.9 assists and 1.9 rebounds in 18.0 minutes per game.

Fifth-year guard Nik Djogo and Notre Dame will have to wait a few more days before playing at home after Wednesday’s game against Western Michigan was canceled because of coronavirus issues.